Manchin Says He Is Considering Leaving Democrats

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is considering leaving the Democratic Party, citing a number of broken promises from President Joe Biden and the leftward direction of the party. A defection by the West Virginia senator could have significant implications for the power balance in the Senate.

Manchin said that he was “thinking seriously” about his party affiliation during a radio interview. He implied that both the Democratic and Republican parties’ “brand has become so bad.” 

“You’ve heard me say a million times I’m not a Washington Democrat,” he said.

The former West Virginia governor stated that he had been considering a party shift “for quite some time.” 

Manchin is currently facing a significant challenge for his Senate seat by current West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is currently leading in polls. 

“When I do speak, I want to be able to speak honestly about basically the extremes of the Democrat and Republican Party that’s harming our nation,” he said.

Manchin previously criticized Biden for what he called broken promises regarding energy extraction in the Inflation Reduction Act. Manchin’s support was crucial in passing the 2022 law.

Manchin’s recent statements mirror similar sentiments expressed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who left the Democratic Party last December.

The senator said that she didn’t “fit well into a traditional party system” and that she had to be “true to myself and true to the values of the Arizonans I represent.” Sinema did not signal at the time whether she would seek reelection in 2024, also mirroring Manchin’s current situation.

Sinema retained her committee assignments chosen by Democrats. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the Democratic Party would “majority on committees, exercise our subpoena power and be able to clear nominees without discharge votes.”

Should Manchin become an independent, Republicans and Democrats would each have 49 senators, with two independents. In the less likely scenario in which Manchin became a Republican, the GOP would hold a slight edge over Democrats.

Due to the tie-breaking ability of Vice President Kamala Harris, Sinema could make or break important legislation depending on her vote.